Men's ODI World Cup 2019
Ponting hopeful of Cup role for Marsh
Ex-skipper urges selectors to keep allrounder in their plans ahead of showpiece ODI event
19 March 2019, 09:42 PM AEST
The World Cup dream of forgotten allrounder Mitch Marsh is not necessarily over, says Australia's soon-to-be assistant coach Ricky Ponting, suggesting he could still be the side's "x-factor" at the tournament.
After being appointed Test vice-captain in October and appearing destined to play a prominent role for the national side across all formats, Marsh has endured the summer from hell, losing his place in all three Australian sides ahead of a huge off-season of cricket.
Last month's excruciating low blow that doctors initially feared to be a ruptured testicle, coming weeks after a bout of gastritis that had also hospitalised him, summed up his painful season.
Marsh's hopes of tasting World Cup glory after missing selection in Australia's 2015 final triumph looked to have been dashed when he was overlooked for the five-match series against Pakistan that begins Friday – the side's final ODI campaign before their 50-over title defence begins in Bristol in June.
But Ponting has urged selectors to keep the Western Australia captain firmly in their plans.
Asked about Marsh's struggles, the former national skipper told cricket.com.au: "It does surprise me. It actually saddens me a little bit as well because I love Mitch Marsh to death.
"I’ve known him for a long time and he's a highly talented player, he's obviously just battling himself at the minute.
"It’s a hard world out there – international cricket is not an easy place to live and survive especially when you're an allrounder like him, and he's had his fair share of injury issues as well.
"I feel for him. I would love to see him in the World Cup squad. There is that danger man, x-factor about someone like Mitchell Marsh with the way that he can strike the cricket ball and his bowling is a little bit underrated as well.
"They're the guys that can win you a World Cup.
"Let’s hope he finishes the Australian domestic season really strongly, makes a lot of runs and gives the selectors a reason to want to pick him back in the Australian team again."
Amid Marsh’s struggles, Marcus Stoinis has grabbed the mantle as the side's leading ODI allrounder, while off-spinner Glenn Maxwell has recently played an increased role with the ball. Ashton Turner also thrived when blooded in the lower order in Australia's unlikely series win in India.
But recent history shows Australia have not been averse to picking multiple all-round options, or ones a little from left field, in World Cup squads.
Shane Watson, James Faulkner and Maxwell all played in Australia's World Cup final-winning side in 2015. Marsh also played three games during the group stages.
Going further back, both Tom Moody and Andrew Symonds, in 1999 and 2003 respectively, were somewhat contentious selections that went on to play crucial roles in Australian tournament triumphs.
Now 27 and with 53 ODIs under his belt, Marsh's position in the pecking order for all three formats is hazy; he was a co vice-captain of the ODI squad as recently as January's home ODIs against India and was recalled for the Boxing Day Test before facing the axe after one game.
Stoinis was then preferred when Australia drafted in an allrounder as cover for the Canberra Test against Sri Lanka.
Marsh averaged 24 in the KFC Big Bash with just one score above 50 while captaining the underwhelming Perth Scorchers.
And while he's yet to pass 50 in the JLT Sheffield Shield since it resumed this year, he played a key role with the ball in his return to the bowling crease last week, collecting six wickets to help the Warriors knock off Tasmania.
"I think (selectors) should be considering him still," Ponting continued. "They'd only be considering him right now on potential really because the numbers aren't there.
"He's not knocking the door down to say, 'you've got to pick me again'.
"And that's what I hope changes, because he's too good a player just to be making 20 or 30 every week in a Sheffield Shield game.
"He's better than that.
"He's shown it on the international stage in the past that, when he's playing at his absolute best, he's a very, very good international player."
Australia's World Cup fixtures
May 25: (warm-up) England v Australia, Southampton
May 27: (warm-up) Australia v Sri Lanka, Southampton
June 9: India v Australia, The Oval
June 12: Australia v Pakistan, Taunton
June 15: Sri Lanka v Australia, The Oval
June 20: Australia v Bangladesh, Trent Bridge
June 25: England v Australia, Lord's
July 9: Semi-Final 1, Old Trafford
July 11: Semi-Final 2, Edgbaston
July 14: Final, Lord's
For a full list of all World Cup fixtures, click HERE